Anthony Randazzo at Reason reviews Mark White’s new book The Manipulation of Choice: Ethics and Libertarian Paternalism. And in today’s Wall Street Journal, Donald Boudreaux reviews Cass Sunstein’s new book on regulation and paternalism, Simpler. Related here.
Per the Los Angeles Times: “New research [on which more — W.O.] shows that prompting beverage makers to sell sodas in smaller packages and bundle them as a single unit actually encourages consumers to buy more soda — and gulp down more calories — than they would have consumed without the ban.”
I’ve done a new Cato podcast with interviewer Caleb Brown discussing Cass Sunstein’s attempts (channeling the behavioral economics literature) to distinguish a softer, less threatening “paternalism of means” from a bossy, intrusive “paternalism of ends.” I don’t think the distinction really works in practice, but as usual with Sunstein’s work, it’s at least worth hearing out. I go on to recommend the work of Joshua Wright and Douglas Ginsburg challenging the new behavioral economics, and suggest that while the scholars of the behavioral economics school do make some headway in showing that private choice is fallible and mistake-ridden, they are less successful at showing that trained experts can improve on these choices without touching off new unintended consequences.
Last week the White House announced with some fanfare the results of federal agencies’ review of their operations to find outdated or unneeded regulations. At Cato at Liberty, I explain why many regulation-watchers are underwhelmed by the results. Mark Steyn at National Review is much funnier on the same topic, including EPA’s very belated recognition that dairy spills on farms are not actually “oil” spills, and also see his postscript on the lengths to which federal inspectors will go to catch out unlicensed use of rabbits in magic shows.
P.S. Much more from Richard Epstein at Hoover “Defining Ideas” (“Reform? What Reform?”).
Some were expecting the prominent law professor to make more of a public splash as the Obama administration’s regulatory czar. Tim Mak at FrumForum looks into why that hasn’t happened, and one of the observers whose opinions he quotes is me.
Tim Mak at NewMajority.com quotes me to the effect that while I’ve disagreed with some of the eminent lawprof’s ideas in the past, and don’t expect to agree with everything he does in his new post as regulatory review manager, he’s likely to give free-market views a fairer and more thoughtful hearing than they’d have gotten from almost anyone else likely to fill the position. Related from NewMajority.com founder David Frum, David Weigel, and Carter Wood; earlier.
Speaking of renowned Chicago law professors with reputations that cut across ideological lines: “Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has blocked President Obama’s candidate for regulation czar, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, because Sunstein has argued that animals should have the right to sue humans in court.” [The Hill; mostly favorable coverage of Sunstein’s nomination and views at my other site, Point of Law].